Much like Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse before it, VenomVerse will feature Venoms from across the Multiverse fighting against a collective threat to them all. And much like Spider-Verse, we are being introduced to some of the key players of the event in a mini-series called Edge of ____Verse. Considering the success of Spider-Gwen, perhaps we can hope one of these new characters might live past September’s event. First up to the bat is Laura Kinney, hot off the success of her first live action appearance. Does she have what it takes?
Edge of VenomVerse #1: X-23
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Roland Boschi
Inkers: Roland Boschi & Adam Gorham
Colorist: Daniel Brown
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
C.Artist: Francesco Mattina
Production: Carlos Lao
Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis & Charles Beacham
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Time To Forget Your Schoolyard Fights: Laura Kinney is on her fifth attempt at escaping The Facility, when she discovers the Venom symbiote. Bonding together, the two are able to escape into Manhattan. She makes a roost in an abandoned bank, where she is discovered by a group of teenagers on the run from their drug-lord boss. The teenagers introduce themselves, but Laura scares them off to keep them away from a hungry symbiote. The teenagers are quickly attacked after leaving, but Laura comes to their rescue. She tries to scare them off once more, but the teenagers see the hero who saved them, not the monster she is wearing. We cut ahead in time, to the day The Facility rediscovers Laura. We learn that Laura has shared the Venom symbiote with her friends to keep them safe, and the group fights back against The Facility. Laura realizes they can not win and tries to get her friends to safety. Suddenly, the Venom symbiote draws back the pieces of itself Laura had given away, against Laura’s wishes. As The Facility closes in on her friends, she is drawn through a portal. On the other side, a Venomized Captain America tells her to forget her friends because there is a war coming.
We Got A War To Win: I rather enjoyed this little done-in-one story, although it has some issues. It does not reinvent the wheel, but it is a nice horror infused superhero tale which takes me back to the days of Zeb Wells’ Carnage mini-series. It provides a surprisingly coherent glimpse into this universe. There is little things in the art that fill in the gaps in the story; on one panel, there is a Spider-Man brand ice cream maker, confirming that Spider-Man exists in this universe even if he did not become Venom’s host. There has been enough versions of Venom created in a lab that it does not bother me that this one comes from a lab but I am bothered by the lack of development between Laura and Venom. Both have established personalities that seem to conflict in the caption boxes, but nowhere else in the story. We have seen Venom stories with Logan that show his healing factor could hold the Venom symbiote at bay, which I think is homaged here by Laura’s ability to split the Venom symbiote into smaller pieces. Instead of exploring the universe or Laura/Venom’s relationship, the story focuses on humanizing X-23 and does a good job of it. Her supporting cast are a well written bunch of street kids with a nice variety of sizes, outfits, and ethnicities. I was actually surprised by the twist that Laura split Venom into little pieces so that they could protect themselves; I like how it is something that distinguishes Laura from other hosts like Peter and Flash. It is just a shame that Venom is completely ignored in this humanizing process. I also think it is a little bizarre that Venom-23’s design is hybrid of Spider-Man and Wolverine’s, when we given no indication that either Laura or Venom have an awareness of either.
Roland Boschi is a fantastic choice of artist on this series. He has a moody style that is like a hybrid of Frazer Irving and Frank Quietly and he really brings this story to life. His action is visceral and feels fluid, thanks to a lot of sketchy lines in the backgrounds. His faces have some wonky aspects, like demon eyes even without a symbioses’ presence, but it adds to the sinister feel of the story. I also like how the Venom pieces do not fully cover the teenagers, but instead alters one feature like their mouth or hands. One of the teenagers, Kiden, looks just like Yolandi Visser (of Die Antwoord fame) but moves like Lady Deathstrike when she uses Venom. This is a visceral issue, which is exactly what a symbiote Wolverine needs. Despite having a diverse cast, Laura is clearly drawn as a pale white girl of an unclear age; Laura has been drawn as both white and hispanic in the past and after Logan, Marvel really should pick one or the other. Having the symbiote take the form of clothing is a nice way to justify an unchanging wardrobe for the main characters. The symbiote Captain America design just looks like someone threw Judge Dredd and Captain America into a blender.
There is a strong visual continuity to the issue. In the opening scene, Laura is somehow eating french fries before escaping The Facility. Later in the issue, one of the teenagers discovers a pile of discarded french fry boxes shortly before Laura reveals herself. I also think the lettering is really strong here, adding to the scene in small ways. In one panel, Laura is drawn into a portal and the sound effects for the portal twists around here in a circular fashion like the portal. The real highlight of the issue though is how Daniel Brown colors the issue. The highlight is how he casts Laura in a creepy red light as she slashes her way through The Facility. He does an excellent job of working with Roland Boschi and Adam Gorham to create heavy shadows and eerie eyes in the stalking scenes. The art team is really what makes this issue something special.
Verdict: Edge of VenomVerse #1 is a solid introduction issue that fails to elevate itself to anything spectacular. The reveal of a symbiote Captain America on the final page fails to live up to the events at the end of Edge of Spider-Verse #1 where Spider-Man Noir was attacked by the Inheritors and saved by the Superior Spider-Man and his team. That was an exciting ending, where as this one just felt like a new story stuck to the end of a story that sadly will not get any closure now. I do not think Venom-23 is the Spider-Gwen of this event, but she will be one badass fighter on the side of the Venoms in the coming battle.
- Strong artistic collaboration
- Strong horror vibe
- Strong character work for Laura
- Venom largely ignored
- Minor issues with the art and story